Paul Aron's Art Collection


Paul Aron
Frankfurt, Germany


Paul Aron's granddaughter, Evelyn Uditsky, describes the photograph that you see here: "I have here a picture of my grandfather's home in Germany, and he had a small Torah ark, and even a podium to pray at, and he had many of his religious pieces in that area, but they would have been all over the house."


The picture shows Paul Aron's (1874-1957) devotion to his faith. He was a religious man, and he spent much of his time in prayer and study. The surroundings provide evidence of the collection of Jewish ceremonial art objects that the Arons kept in their home. A small Chanukah candelabrum rests on top of the Torah Ark. The Torah scroll is equipped with a decorative Torah pointer. A star-shaped Shabbat lamp hangs from the ceiling. Through this collection, Paul Aron was able to combine his devotion to the Jewish faith with his passion for art. Many of the objects from the Aron household, such as the Shabbat lamp that appears in the photograph, are now on display at the Aron Museum.


As a young man, Paul set out to become an artist and was sent by his family to an art school in Zurich. Yet when his own father died in 1896, Paul's mother insisted that he return home. As the eldest son, he was expected to take over the family business.

Paul returned to Frankfurt and stepped into his father's shoes. He became a businessman and ran the family's factory, Aron Sacks, which made jute bags and wagon covers. He married Karoline Levi, with whom he would have seven children. He continued to uphold the Orthodox faith and traditions of his family.


Paul seems to have abandoned his art practice when he returned to Frankfurt, finding a new outlet for his passion for art as a collector of Jewish ceremonial art objects.

His daughter Judith remembered that her father would always bring new pieces into their home. The pieces were not only intended to be admired, but were also used by the family in their observance of Jewish rituals.


Judith particularly remembered celebrating Shabbat in her childhood home.

The holiday of Shabbat is observed every week, from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown. It is a day of rest, when families and friends get together to feast, pray, learn Torah and sing.

Shabbat was a very significant day in the Aron household. It was also a weekly opportunity for Paul and his family to use the pieces in his collection.


Shabbat Hanging Lamp (Brass) 19th century
Date not available


This Shabbat lamp appears in the picture of Paul Aron in his home. Every Friday night, Karoline Aron would light the lamp as a way of welcoming the holiday of Shabbat. Judith Borenstein, one of the Arons' daughters, explained: "This was in our living room - this Shabbas lamp. Every Friday night, she [Karoline Aron] would light that. Now it's electrified. But when my mother had it, it had oil wicks in it."


Before members of the Aron family sat down for the Shabbat meal on Friday night, they would perform the ritual of washing their hands. This ritual is observed in Jewish homes not only for hygienic reasons, but also as a way of purifying oneself spiritually. The Arons had a special laver and basin that they used on Shabbat and other holidays. The laver takes the form of a large copper fish, with a lever coming out of its mouth. When lifted, water flows out of the small faucet under the fish's mouth. The basin, also of copper, is mounted just below the fish in order to catch the water.


Laver and Basin (Copper) 19th century
Date not available


Today, this unique piece is housed in the Aron Museum, but Judith Borenstein remembered when it was hanging in their dining room in Frankfurt am Main. All of the children would take turns using it before eating. Her mother would put water into the fish, and the children were allowed to let the water run out. One of the children would carry a towel and would give it to the person who washed their hands. Then her father would make a "brachah," a blessing, over the "challah," the bread, and they would begin to eat.


Miniature Laver and Basin (Silver) Early 20th century
Date not available


Another laver and basin in the Aron Museum's collection also comes from Paul Aron's home. This miniature laver and basin was made in the early twentieth century in Germany, and was donated to the museum by one of Judith's sisters, Molly Aron.